A Complete Guide to Hardware EOSL: End of Service Life

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No hardware lasts forever. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) often assign an end-of-service-life (EOSL) date to the hardware they manufacture. OEM hardware that reaches this date can no longer be repaired by the manufacturer itself.

Every business must account for EOSL accordingly. Here is a look at what EOSL means for your mission-critical systems and why you need to prioritize a plan for its transition.

What Is EOSL?

EOSL is the final phase of a device’s lifecycle. It refers to a date after which an OEM will no longer sell that hardware or provide technical support and maintenance for it. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • An OEM may offer a limited paid support arrangement to those who want technical support or maintenance for hardware that has reached its EOSL and are willing to pay a premium for it.
  • It is often moving on from the product entirely, however. 
  • They are more likely to recommend businesses get in touch with third-party providers for technical support or maintenance of what would now be considered legacy systems.

Both continuing service options are likely to become more expensive over time and eventually untenable. It is important to have a plan in place for what to do with those machines after their service is done.

How Does EOSL Differ from EOL?

EOSL is sometimes mistaken for end-of-life (EOL), but there are notable differences between the two terms. Businesses should have a clear understanding of EOSL and EOL and prepare for both. 

Hardware labeled as EOL is being replaced but is often still in service and eligible for support. An OEM will stop providing updates following their hardware’s EOL, though. This means businesses that continue to use outdated hardware cannot install security patches or other updates. They can still use hardware that reaches its EOL, of course, but doing so poses risk. Companies cannot keep this hardware up to date to protect against security vulnerabilities, glitches, and other performance issues that hamper productivity. 

OEMs often continue to provide technical support and maintenance for hardware after EOL, unlike EOSL. They may also shift exclusively to paid support and maintenance. An EOSL product is usually past that point. Your ability to differentiate EOSL from EOL is key for any business that wants to avoid a wide range of hardware issues. 

Why Do You Need to Prepare for EOSL?

You need to track your hardware EOSL dates closely. This allows you to save both time and money. Hardware EOSL planning helps you avoid delays and disruptions in replacing vital equipment. It enables you to plan ahead to update your hardware before it reaches its EOSL. This ensures you can avoid spending significant time and money to find third-party support for outdated hardware or hiring a full-time employee just to keep these outdated systems running. 

EOSL Preparation: 5 Factors to Consider

An EOSL strategy can help your business avoid the dangers of falling behind on hardware upgrades. You should account for several factors in your EOSL strategy, including:

1. OEM Support

Find out if an OEM will continue to provide technical support or maintenance after hardware EOSL. We have already talked about the impact of this, so it helps to know ahead of time what kind of arrangements you’ll need to make. 

2. Third-Party Maintenance

Reach out to third-party maintenance (TPM) providers. They may provide server, storage, network, and other parts, even after hardware reaches its EOSL. These providers often offer remote hardware assistance, access to expert field engineers, and other technical support and maintenance unavailable from an OEM.  

3. Costs

Assess the costs associated with paid technical support or maintenance from the OEM, TPM, and/or upgrading to new hardware. The costs of hardware EOSL can add up quickly since any hardware that reaches its EOSL will cut into your bottom line if it stops working and cannot be repaired. 

4. Timeline

Consider how much time is left until your hardware’s EOSL, and give yourself as much time as possible to prepare for it. You risk costly, time-intensive mistakes if you let the EOSL date pass or rush to upgrade your hardware at the last minute.  

5. Compatibility

Determine which software and systems may need to be updated in conjunction with EOSL hardware. You can then plan to update all hardware, software, and systems simultaneously and ensure they work properly with one another. 

Preparing for EOSL can give your company a leg up on the competition, as well. Your business should try to deploy new hardware long before its EOSL. This allows you to leverage the new hardware’s features and capabilities for the longest term and generate maximum ROI from that investment. 

technical support explaining the EOSL

5 Tips to Prepare for EOSL

Diligence is key when it comes to preparing for hardware EOSL. Here are five things you can do to prepare a hardware EOSL plan that delivers your intended results. 

1. Review Your Hardware

Examine your business hardware and its EOSL dates. Track these dates and be proactive to plan for them. 

2. Start Planning for EOSL at EOL

You shouldn’t wait for EOSL to update your hardware. A hardware’s EOL usually arrives several years before its EOSL, so use the EOL date as a jumping-off point for upgrades. 

3. Establish an EOSL Timeline

Create a hardware EOSL timeline. Use milestones to track your timeline’s progress. 

4. Deploy New Hardware in Stages 

Implement a tiered approach to phase out hardware before it reaches EOSL. This gives you time to integrate new hardware into your operations and ensure it works correctly. You should also give yourself sufficient time to educate end users about new hardware, how it works, and its benefits. 

5. Permanently Erase All Data From Hardware Before Recycling

This step is often overlooked because businesses assume that data left on hardware headed to recycling, or even resale, will be irretrievable. Just because you delete the files using system tools doesn’t mean there aren’t records of it in hidden folders or even a lingering image on the disk. Bad actors can retrieve this information if you’re not careful, so it’s important to permanently delete all files on all hardware headed out the door. The best way to do this is with an external file shredder. These are external devices, often simple USB plug-ins, that destroy files and erase all traces of them on the hardware, so you can be sure that data will never fall into the wrong hands.

Be sure to track the execution of your strategy to avoid malfunctioning hardware that disrupts operations. Verify all hardware is working as expected, ensure all end users know how to use it, and monitor EOL and EOSL dates going forward. 

Common Pitfalls of Preparing for EOSL

Those aware of a few common pitfalls regarding EOSL preparation will be less like to see their strategy derailed. EOSL preparation is rarely simple; many problems can make it difficult to update hardware before its EOSL arrives, such as:

  • Poor communication between stakeholders involved in the development and execution of an EOSL strategy
  • Failure to account for HIPAA, PCI-DSS, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other industry or federal compliance standards 
  • Lack of metrics and reporting to determine if an EOSL strategy is delivering the optimal results

Too many businesses stumble into unneeded problems because they fail to make and execute a diligent plan for dealing with EOSL. Your company doesn’t have to be one of them. Following the above strategy tips and avoiding the pitfalls will put your business on firm footing and allow you to continue operating smoothly as your crucial systems age and need to be replaced. 

Contact an Expert With Questions About EOSL

Working with an EOSL expert offers a great starting point to put together your EOSL strategy. They may even recommend using a digital file shredder as part of your EOSL preparation. After all, you need to make sure sensitive data cannot be retrieved from those systems when it’s time to recycle them.

Shred Cube offers a reliable USB file shredder that lets you securely delete unwanted documents and files. Contact Shred Cube today to speak with an expert about our permanent file shredding device. 

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